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‘A huge failure’: Israeli delegation officials criticize judo team

Peter Paltchik of Israel, left, and Aaron Wolf of Japan compete in the men's -100kg quarterfinal round judo match of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, July 29, 2021. (AP/Vincent Thian)
Peter Paltchik of Israel, left, and Aaron Wolf of Japan compete in the men's -100kg quarterfinal round judo match of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, July 29, 2021. (AP/Vincent Thian)

Officials in Israel’s delegation to the Tokyo Olympics are voicing strong criticism of the country’s judo team, which has seen its chances of snagging a medal near-evaporate after Peter Paltchik’s loss today in the men’s -100kg event.

With most judo events over, no Israeli has even reached the semifinals.

Only two days of judo events remain, but Rio 2016 bronze medalist Ori Sasson will likely face an ultra-tough challenge in his first bout tomorrow in the men’s +100kg event, expected to be against French superstar Teddy Riner, and Raz Hershko hasn’t been seen as a medal contender in the women’s +78kg.

Israel also hasn’t been considered a favorite in Saturday’s team event.

“This is a huge failure. Conclusions must be drawn as to how this collapse happened at the Olympics,” an unnamed delegation official is quoted as saying by Ynet. “There is something systematic here, it isn’t a one-time failure, and all the judokas lost to inferior rivals.”

There has also been criticism directed at the men’s coach Oren Smadja, who was filmed scolding Paltchik after his loss today, saying: “You gave him the match at the end. You let him do his move and because of that you are losing. You shouldn’t have enabled that, he had already given up.”

A delegation official rebuked the coach: “Oren subjected him to a field trial. When there are victories and achievements, he is the first to take photos alongside his athletes.”

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